Building a Digital Platform with Alexa Skills & E-Commerce
Thrive Global chose Very to design and develop their robust digital platform in just 12 weeks.
Software Development, Product Design
Ruby on Rails, Shopify, Alexa skills, Teachable
Arianna Huffington left Huffington Post to found Thrive Global — a platform that helps users achieve what Huffington refers to as “the third metric:” Thriving. The mission of Thrive Global is to to help people prioritize their well-being, so that decision-making, creativity, and productivity are enhanced — and we move from merely surviving to thriving.
With development led by Very, this launch was among the top 10% of platform launches I have ever been a part of."
CTO, WALL STREET JOURNAL
Thrive wanted their platform to function as a set of tools and resources for users: part editorial content and part e-commerce. As CTO of Thrive Global, Rajiv Pant had his work cut out for him. His team only had 12 weeks to conceptualize, build, and launch an entire platform on par with the best media companies.
Rajiv needed a partner to build the framework that would tie all these services together into a single, cohesive experience. Pulling off a launch of this caliber under a fast-approaching deadline required meticulous planning and an agile methodology. After an exhaustive search for the right development partner, Thrive Global chose Very to help design and engineer their digital platform.
To meet the deadline, and to focus the initial scope, we started by sitting down with Rajiv and his team. Together, we devised an initial set of features, which we would use to test market assumptions. Leveraging the Medium API, we built out a Rails Admin in the first three weeks of the project, so Thrive was able to start interacting with a prototype of their product, fast. Early testing gave Thrive time to get used to the new workflow and to identify potential problems well before launch.
We also chose the platforms and frameworks to support Rajiv’s technical requirements.
We evaluated e-commerce vendors and decided to build Thrive’s e-commerce marketplace with Shopify. The finished product coordinates the sale of digital products, third-party products via dropshipping, and partner products from Peleton and Fitbit. We onboarded over 70 different vendors with hundreds of SKUs in time for launch.
Editorial Content and Online Learning
We leveraged the Medium API and built out a Rails Admin to allow the Thrive team to flow content between Medium and their custom admin. After evaluating e-learning vendors, we decided to use Teachable to build Thrive’s e-course, which uses scientifically proven methods to decrease stress and burnout. The six-week course incorporates video content alongside reading assignments and includes tracking tools to help students monitor their progress.
We built a reusable framework so the Thrive team can quickly build Alexa skills. We used the framework to build the first Thrive for Alexa skill, which uses voice commands to help users relax before going to sleep — without any screens in the bedroom. Voice commands help users unwind with a guided meditation from Agapi Stassinopoulos.
We handled every aspect of the product engineering: DevOps, prototyping, systems architecture, front-end, and back-end development. We also guided the strategy for UX, information architecture, and analytics.
The result: an incredibly engaging and highly functional platform that positions Thrive to better serve its mission. We launched on time, and Fortune announced the launch just 45 minutes later. The site was instantly flooded with visitors, and the infrastructure held up to traffic spikes with ease. The Thrive Global homepage also boasts page load times of 1.45 seconds — faster than 82% of tested sites — which is especially impressive considering that it hosts significantly more content than many other sites.
After the launch, Rajiv wanted the platform ownership to be transferred to his internal team for upkeep.
FASTER THAN OTHER SITES
“Because Very’s code is clean, concise, effective, and tested, our internal team can easily maintain, modify, and adjust the platform,” Rajiv says. “Very is really transparent with their processes and methodology, so we’re able to implement their best practices with our development team. Very isn’t just a vendor. They are true partners, working to help us create disruptive technology — fast.”